“administrative offenses”
July 29, 2016 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Chelsea Manning Faces Solitary Confinement and Charges After Suicide Attempt [The Guardian] Chelsea Manning may face charges relating to a suicide attempt this year, which could lead to indefinite solitary confinement or transferral to a maximum-security facility, according to a civil rights group. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced on Thursday that Manning, who is serving a 35-year sentence in military custody for leaking state secrets to the whistleblowing site WikiLeaks, was under investigation for three charges related to her 5 July suicide attempt: “resisting the force cell move team”, “prohibited property”, and “conduct which threatens”. Manning confirmed through her lawyers in July that she was receiving medical care after having tried to take her own life. If convicted of these new “administrative offenses”, she faces punishment that could include solitary confinement for the rest of her sentence, reclassification as a maximum-security prisoner, and an addition of nine years to her sentence. It might also negate her possibility of parole, according to the ACLU. [Previously.]
posted by Fizz (54 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Solitary confinement as punishment for a suicide attempt is inhumanly cruel.
posted by teponaztli at 10:21 AM on July 29, 2016 [150 favorites]


Nothing solves suicidal depression like isolation.
posted by entropos at 10:21 AM on July 29, 2016 [35 favorites]


From the article:
“It is deeply troubling that Chelsea is now being subjected to an investigation and possible punishment for her attempt to take her life,” ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio said in a press release. “The government has long been aware of Chelsea’s distress associated with the denial of medical care related to her gender transition, and yet delayed and denied the treatment recognized as necessary.
Ugh, cruel and dehumanizing treatment of an individual who is struggling with mental health issues. I hope the ACLU finds a way to get her the treatment she needs.
posted by Fizz at 10:27 AM on July 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


Prisons and Jails Put Transgender Inmates at Risk (NYTimes, by the Editorial Board, 2015): Transgender inmates who are assaulted or harassed are often placed in solitary confinement, which, though intended for their protection, is in fact a severe punishment. Isolation takes an enormous psychological toll on inmates, and can put them at increased risk of assault by guards. It deprives them of access to group therapy and educational programs that could improve employment prospects upon release. And immigration detainees, who often have no clear timeline for release, can face the frightening prospect of solitary confinement with no end in sight.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:31 AM on July 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


This breaks my heart just to think about.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 10:32 AM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is suing against "cruel and unusual punishment" a thing at all in the US, or is that just a Canadian thing?

The use of segregation and solitary confinement has recently been under legal challenge in Canada. I pretty certain it will be banned or severely limited as a practice in the very near future.
posted by bonehead at 10:34 AM on July 29, 2016 [4 favorites]




I'm not holding out much hope but I really wish that Obama would pardon her and Snowden as the last thing he does before leaving office.
posted by mikesch at 10:36 AM on July 29, 2016 [28 favorites]


Solitary confinement as punishment for a suicide attempt is inhumanly cruel.

POSIWID, again and again and again.
posted by brennen at 10:36 AM on July 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


It is a thing (it's a constitutional right!) but there are numerous procedural roadblocks. It is difficult to sue the Bureau of Prisons, I think. Plus the substantive right has been interpreted somewhat narrowly.

Sadly, solitary confinement is not an unusual punishment here.
posted by grobstein at 10:36 AM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


One of the most damning things that can be said about Obama is that this seems unlikely not because he is held to some pragmatic political calculus, but because there is every indication that his administration is committed at the level of ideology and deep conviction to suppressing whistleblowing as a form of dissent.
posted by brennen at 10:39 AM on July 29, 2016 [56 favorites]


The notion of total isolation is not new to American incarceration. Charles Dickens noted how inhumane total seclusion was when he visited Eastern Penitentiary:

"The method was a Quaker-inspired system of isolation from other prisoners, with labor. The early system was strict. To prevent distraction, knowledge of the building, and even mild interaction with guards, inmates were hooded whenever they were outside their cells. But the proponents of the system believed strongly that the criminals, exposed, in silence, to thoughts of their behavior and the ugliness of their crimes, would become genuinely penitent. Thus the new word, penitentiary."
Though not the words of Dickens, he expressed similar views on the harshness there in his book American Travels
posted by Postroad at 10:46 AM on July 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


Thanks, Obama!
posted by b1tr0t at 10:47 AM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can't see how there is any part of this that isn't rooted in leering, gleeful, utterly psychopathic sadism.
posted by treepour at 10:58 AM on July 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


This is so nakedly politically motivated persecution of an individual. How many prisoners attempt suicide each year in the US? And how many have charges even considered against them as a consequence?
posted by Dysk at 10:58 AM on July 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


I can't help but think that in today's America, even if Manning and Snowden were fully pardoned, a functional, safe life would be impossible, and they'd have to live abroad.

Look at how much hate the targets of Gamergate get, and now multiply that by the factor of people believing these two are actual traitors who deserve summary execution.
posted by explosion at 11:00 AM on July 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


35 years in prison with very little likelihood of being released early, I'd be trying to kill myself as well. The whole thing is inhumane.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:00 AM on July 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


Cruel and inhuman is pretty much the definition here.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:11 AM on July 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


> I can't help but think that in today's America, even if Manning and Snowden were fully pardoned, a functional, safe life would be impossible, and they'd have to live abroad.

I'm betting Iceland would let them in — back in 2013 the Pirate Party had a bill up granting immediate citizenship to Snowden. The Pirates were relatively weak then and the bill failed, but it's likely the Pirates are going to have control of parliament after October of this year.

If in his last day of office Obama pardoned Manning and arranged for her fly to Iceland — because, realistically, she wouldn't be safe in the US — I would forgive Obama for every single bad thing he's ever done.

This is not going to happen. but in a good world? that's what would happen.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:11 AM on July 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


If this doesn't happen before Obama leaves office, I'm going to expect Hillary to do so when she takes office.
posted by Kitteh at 11:33 AM on July 29, 2016


Is there a historical precedent for a President not pardoning someone, but saying "okay, minimum security only"?
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:34 AM on July 29, 2016


How many prisoners attempt suicide each year in the US? And how many have charges even considered against them as a consequence?

Actually, I believe this is common in prison, with administrative punishments being handed out for the "misbehavior" involved in suicide attempts, or the suicidal prisoners being put in solitude "for increased security." While Manning is obviously a special case, much of what she experiences merely highlights the conditions prisoners are routinely subjected to.
posted by praemunire at 11:43 AM on July 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


This is disgusting.
posted by Lyme Drop at 11:44 AM on July 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


This is nightmarishly cruel and inhumane. A stain on the soul of America.
posted by Falconetti at 11:48 AM on July 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


“resisting the force cell move team”

that is ominous sounding, as the "force cell move team" is some Brazil-type shit (the movie, to be clear, I mean) from what I have heard.
posted by thelonius at 11:52 AM on July 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Horrifying, and shameful.
posted by rtha at 11:52 AM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


If this doesn't happen before Obama leaves office, I'm going to expect Hillary to do so when she takes office.

Get ready for disappointment. She's on the record at believing both Manning and Snowden are criminals.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:55 AM on July 29, 2016 [20 favorites]


but it's likely the Pirates are going to have control of parliament after October of this year.

apparently after brexit the (centre-right) independence party has been surging somewhat and are now neck and neck with the pirates...
posted by kliuless at 11:57 AM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


:(
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:04 PM on July 29, 2016


I just wanted to point out that Chelsea Manning is in Leavenworth, which is overseen by United States Army Corrections Command, not the Bureau of Prisons. Military prison is a different beast. From what I've read, in some ways it is safer and cleaner than regular prison, but it is extremely regimented with very few opportunities for personal expression. I can guarantee that no one is running around in Leavenworth with saggy drawers or an unusual haircut. I imagine that just the clothing and haircut restrictions are their own small torture for Chelsea. What has become clear while I've followed this case is that the military prison apparatus has only one tool in the drawer to deal with suicide and depression, and that's isolation and dehumanization.

For example, from the NYT in 2011, when she was still at the Quantico brig:
Private Manning is in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va... He is forced to remove all his clothes every night. And every morning he is required to stand outside his cell, naked, until he passes inspection and is given his clothes back.
Pardon the pronouns--I do believe this was written before she had requested a pronoun change. The naked sleeping was a response to Chelsea's discomfort with being forced to sleep only in boxers due to previous threats of suicide. She joked that if she was really still suicidal, she could find a way to kill herself with boxers and flipflops. The response was to take even those away. It took public pressure to get Chelsea issued a sleeping garment.

When folks complained to President Obama about this abusive situation, he said he was satisfied that Manning was being handled appropriately.
posted by xyzzy at 12:12 PM on July 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


The solitary confinement will continue till morale improves.
posted by splitpeasoup at 12:17 PM on July 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


> When folks complained to President Obama about this abusive situation, he said he was satisfied that Manning was being handled appropriately.

:(

If we reach one of the good timelines, this is definitely going to confuse kids studying history. Obama will be remembered as a good president, Chelsea Manning will be remembered as a hero and a martyr, and kids everywhere won't get why the good president Obama martyred the national hero Chelsea Manning.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:20 PM on July 29, 2016 [20 favorites]


If this doesn't happen before Obama leaves office, I'm going to expect Hillary to do so when she takes office.
posted by Kitteh at 11:33 AM on July 29 [+] [!]


As others have pointed out, both Obama and Clinton are on the record stating that Manning and Snowden are both traitors and that, in Clinton's words, they deserve to "face the music".

In fact, to my knowledge, there are actually no likely Presidential candidates -- both now and for 2020, on either side of the aisle -- who don't feel the same way.

I think that you probably cannot operate an empire without some level of brutality, and Manning's imprisonment is a testament to that. I don't really see an obvious path that America can take which leads us away from this conclusion.
posted by Tyrant King Porn Dragon at 12:20 PM on July 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


She's on the record at believing both Manning and Snowden are criminals.

Believing those two are criminals is not incompatible with being against inhumane imprisonment conditions.

I certainly don't expect either Obama or Clinton to pardon either of them, and I don't particularly hold it against them. I'll hold their lack of action here however, against them.
posted by Dalby at 12:22 PM on July 29, 2016 [18 favorites]


If we reach one of the good timelines, this is definitely going to confuse kids studying history. Obama will be remembered as a good president, Chelsea Manning will be remembered as a hero and a martyr, and kids everywhere won't get why the good president Obama martyred the national hero Chelsea Manning.

From your lips to god's ears.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:51 PM on July 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


How is this going to help Chelsea reform when, in 30ish years, she is released?

ahahahaha j/k abt prison being for reforming people

The same two people you all were crying over during the DNC megathreads can (and/or, I hope, will be able to) give her a humane existence with literally one phone call. But they have not and, I bet, will not.
posted by radicalawyer at 1:05 PM on July 29, 2016 [21 favorites]


The same two people you all were crying over during the DNC megathreads can (and/or, I hope, will be able to) give her a humane existence with literally one phone call. But they have not and, I bet, will not.

It's also not incompatible to be overall enthusiastic about and expect overall positive outcomes from candidates and politicians who nevertheless have various flaws or glaring flaws in places.
posted by Dalby at 1:13 PM on July 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


"Well, powerful people need to make the tough calls," I say as the crane lowers me into my bacon-grease hot tub. My manservant Jose hands me my pineapple and petroleum cocktail and I take a sip. "It's easy to be pure when you're not the one on the front lines."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:19 PM on July 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


It's also not incompatible to be overall enthusiastic about and expect overall positive outcomes from candidates and politicians who nevertheless have various flaws or glaring flaws in places.

I am sincerely glad that Clinton / the Democratic Party's base seems to be rallying some, because the alternative administration on offer promises a horrifying catastrophe and because, all else being equal, it's well past time a woman held the office. But Chelsea Manning's experience is a reminder (one among incalculably many others) that our system of power is profoundly corrupt and our civilization itself is foundationally committed to violence, coercion, and torture - a state of affairs to which politicians like Clinton and Obama are all too often not even conceptually opposed, whatever ethical or philosophical depth they otherwise evince.

I won't pretend to any great personal consistency here, but I feel less and less likely to trip down the path of enthusiasm again.
posted by brennen at 1:43 PM on July 29, 2016 [23 favorites]


The purpose of the harsh punishment is to discourage others from leaking. If Manning was pardoned early or seen to be well-treated (even allowed a sex change!), more people might be willing to leak. It's a perverse incentive, but there it is. It's like when a naive kid plays with a grizzly bear and gets his face ripped off: it doesn't matter if the kid deserved it or not; bears gonna bear.

I certainly don't agree with punishing someone for suicide attempts, or the severity of the sentence or the whole f'd up situation where there isn't any apparatus to validate 'good' leaks and prevent government overreaction.
posted by sensate at 2:22 PM on July 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Right, and/but a step further, science consistently shows that negative reinforcement amplifies reactance and is counterproductive in the long run. It erodes perceived legitimacy of authority. In that sense, there isn't even an objective purpose (whose purpose?), even if the intent and concern behind it are understandable and valid.
posted by polymodus at 2:28 PM on July 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Believing those two are criminals is not incompatible with being against inhumane imprisonment conditions.

Exactly. Manning violated the US 1917 Espionage Act, which the military and Federal government takes very seriously, for obvious reasons. She was found guilty in a military court and court martialed. By every legal definition she is a convicted criminal.

That said, her sentence and mistreatment are disgusting, cruel and inhumane. The poor woman has suffered enough. Clinton is perfectly capable of understanding that and either commuting Manning's sentence or allowing her to be treated with respect and dignity.
posted by zarq at 2:59 PM on July 29, 2016 [16 favorites]


Not to be pedantic Zarq, but Clinton can't do sweet fuck all at this point in time.
posted by smcniven at 5:12 PM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Chelsea Manning absolutely deserves to serve every day of the 35 years as far as I'm concerned (Snowden deserves more than that, if he returns.) She didn't even know what classified info she was releasing since it was far too much to read
posted by knoyers at 5:54 PM on July 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Can Chelsea Manning receive mail in solitary? chelseamanning.org urges, Write to Chelsea Manning, but I don't know how up-to-date that page is and whether it takes into account the rights/privileges that would be taken away from her in solitary.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 7:46 PM on July 29, 2016


> Chelsea Manning absolutely deserves to serve every day of the 35 years as far as I'm concerned (Snowden deserves more than that, if he returns.)

In solitary? Because if you're going to advocate for torture and the death penalty, then just say the words.
posted by rtha at 7:58 PM on July 29, 2016 [17 favorites]


Not to be pedantic Zarq, but Clinton can't do sweet fuck all at this point in time.

Of course! But if she gets elected....
posted by zarq at 8:18 PM on July 29, 2016


My feeling is that it personalizing this situation to be about Chelsea Manning alone may not be the best way to improve her situation since, regardless of my belief on the rightness or wrongness of her actions, this sort of problem will arise again where that is a less ambiguous issue. So for the good of not just Chelsea but any that might follow her in confinement, the US needs to find a more humane way to deal with transgender prisoners and despair and suicidal behavior more generally in our prison systems, whether military or otherwise.

As to what the best course of action might be in these cases though isn't something I'm well informed enough to say, beyond it being obvious that the system as it is clearly isn't working and change needs to be effected.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:13 AM on July 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


From my civilian standpoint we need whistleblowers, inside the US government as they are a check on the day to day operation on an extremely powerful and technological advanced force.

Many people in the United States can't actually conceptually understand what technology can do, and what it is used for when how the Internet even works is a mystery to some.

From a governmental standpoint the amount of dissent, dissatisfaction and trust is already pretty eroded. Controlled releases insure that hostile nations and civilians don know what's going on exactly and some security secrecy is needed.

The balance between the two is a mire of ethical delimmas. I want Snowden pardoned, and I'm not sure about Manning(this had more to do about my lack of knowledge). She doesn't deserve 35 years or to be treated inhumanity. Punished for trying to take her life. That is just perverse.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:38 AM on July 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


Manning needs to be released on medical grounds, and left free to live a life of her choosing. I may misunderstand her case, but it is not in the US's behalf to hold her, especially if it means abetting her death. It is not in the US's interests to proceed with incarceration. And, she is never going to be quiet, or invisible, but in a free life, doing all she can, she will never have the impact, she will have, dying in custody. It is all about perceptions.
posted by Oyéah at 9:01 AM on July 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Exactly. Manning violated the US 1917 Espionage Act, which the military and Federal government takes very seriously, for obvious reasons. She was found guilty in a military court and court martialed. By every legal definition she is a convicted criminal.

It is actually an innovation of the Obama administration to take this so seriously. Obama has prosecuted more leakers under the Espionage Act than all previous Presidents combined.

It shows a special concern for punishing and discouraging whistleblowers, who are now classed as "insider threats" in military / intelligence doctrine. The framing of "the law is the law" obscures that these prosecutions are a departure from previous practice and a policy initiative in their own right.

(That said, it is plausible that any modern President, not just Obama, would have prosecuted Manning.)
posted by grobstein at 10:07 AM on July 30, 2016 [10 favorites]


This is long term torture and this is wrong. Execution is probably more humane in this case. How sad is that?
posted by sety at 10:28 AM on July 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


knuckle tattoos: The address seems to be correct as of July 11 (ie, after the suicide attempt), when her attorneys were still encouraging people to write to her. See here. Not sure how that may be impacted by solitary confinement policies... but the press release says she could be placed in solitary if convicted of these new charges. As of July 11, she was only under "close observation."
posted by nequalsone at 11:27 AM on August 1, 2016 [3 favorites]




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